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Sheriff warns of phone scam

October 13, 2017 GMT

The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office is warning of a scam that involves people calling residents and demanding money on behalf of the sheriff.

“No employee of the sheriff’s office will ever contact members of the public by telephone to demand money or any other form of payment,” said Andrea Zielinski, the sheriff’s community outreach coordinator in a press release.

According to Zielinski, scam artists are calling residents are claiming that there is an outstanding warrant for an unpaid debt, missed jury duty or come other minor infraction, and that a fine is due.

The caller then demands payment from the resident via a debit or credit card, Western Union transfer, or instructs the potential victim to obtain a prepaid card to cover the payment.

To sound credible, Zielinski said the scammers are using legitimate names and information of law enforcement employees and may even reference a local judge by name. The callers also use a tactic called Caller ID “spoofing,” which makes it appear as though the call is coming from a local law enforcement agency or court office.

“This scam plays on your fears,” Zielinski said.

If you get this type of call, hang up immediately, she suggested.

Ask some personal questions that would be hard for an impostor to answer correctly. Always resist the pressure to act quickly. Instead, hang up and immediately contact someone else they know to verify the information.

If you are worried that you might owe money on a fine, call the number that is provided by the court offices that the warrant was issued from, she said. Find the number in a local directory and do not assume that any number the potential scammer has given you is valid.

If you do give the caller any personal information, inform law enforcement immediately.

Unfortunately, con artists are always coming up with new and different ways to try and scam you. Trust your gut instincts and think twice about what you are doing. When in doubt, just hang up.